Video of Rick J. Mourits’s webinar is now available.

Please find the talk given by Rick J. Mourits, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on: “Occupational characteristics and spatial inequalities in mortality during 1918-9 influenza pandemic in the Netherlands” here:

Other authors: Auke Rijpma, Ruben Schalk, Ingrid K. van Dijk, Richard L. Zijdeman

Please welcome one of our new post-docs: Margarida Pereira

Margarida Pereira is a Health Geographer with a Masters in Geographic Information Systems and other masters in Public Health. Margarida has finished her PhD in Human Geography recently and is going to integrate the team of the Centre for Research on Pandemics & Society (PANSOC) as a post-doc researcher.

  1. Tell us about your project

The firsts COVID-19 outbreaks occurred in urban areas, which confirmed that these areas gather the perfect conditions for fast dissemination of infectious diseases by being extremely populated areas, with high levels of pollution and with high mobility rates. Also, at an early stage of COVID-19 pandemic, physicians and scientist observed that individuals with obesity, not only were at higher risk of contracting severe illness but also had increased odds of dying. Obesity was declared by WHO as a world epidemic in 2000, and the highest rates of obesity are observed precisely in urban areas. Hence, such areas became naturally privileged settings for the uprising of the 2020 syndemic of COVID-19 and obesity. Therefore, this research project intends to deepen the knowledge about COVID-19 pandemic and its association with a pre-existent major public health concern – obesity – in urban contexts, using an ecological approach.

  • Why are you joining PANSOC?

I have recently finished my PhD in Human Geography at the University of Coimbra (Portugal) that focused specifically on how the urban environment impacts individuals’ weight status. And, as it is well-known now, obesity is an important risk factor for severe cases of COVID-19. Therefore, I started to draft a project to investigate the mutual determinants of both obesity and COVID-19 in urban areas following a theoretical syndemic framework.

When the call for post-doc position opened at PANSOC, I immediately thought it would be the perfect place to develop my project and fortunately I was given the opportunity to carry out my research here. I am sure that PANSOC is the ideal host centre for my project and that it will provide the necessary support to achieve its goals successfully, considering the vast experience in pandemic studies in the last years.   

  • What are your plans for a future dream-project in academia?

Honestly, I see the present research project as the beginning of a long path investigating in depth the means by which urban areas impact individuals’ health and its implications in both the prevalence of infectious (COVID-19) and non-communicable diseases (obesity) in these areas. I imagine myself pursuing an academic career dedicated to the study of population health in urban areas and hopefully with the support of PANSOC along the time.

I am also interested in studying how living in urban contexts imposes certain lifestyles, more or less healthy, i.e., what are the implications of living in areas with different urban configurations in the individuals’ health-related behaviours and choices.

See Margarida’s profile here: Our team – Centre for Research on Pandemics & Society (PANSOC) (

PANSOC sitert i koronakommisjonens rapport

Koronakommisjonens rapport ble lagt frem i dag NOU 2021: 6 ( PANSOC har bidratt på flere måter: 1) ved å skrive invitert “Vedlegg 7: Spanskesyken og COVID-19: Hvem er mottakelige, hvem blir smittet og hvem overlever (digitalt vedlegg). 2) Våre arbeider har også blitt sitert, både vår kronikk Sjenerøse sykelønnsordninger begrenser smitte | Elisabeth Fevang og Svenn-Erik Mamelund ( (side 24), senterlederens artikkel om sosial ulikhet i Kristiania under Spanskeskesyken (PDF) A socially neutral disease? Individual social class, household wealth and mortality from Spanish influenza in two socially contrasting parishes in Kristiania 1918-19 ( (s. 411) og sosial ulikhet i etterlevelse av smitteverntiltak under COVID-19 pandemien (PDF) Social Disparities in Adopting Non-pharmaceutical Interventions During COVID-19 ( (s. 411).

Senterleder Mamelund har også blitt intervjuet i Dagsavisen om manglende fokus på sosial ulikhet i myndighetenes smittevernarbeid under pandemien i 2020, se her: Får krass kritikk for beredskapen: – For dårlig – Dagsavisen

5th PANSOC webinar 15th of April 16:00-17:00 (CET).

Rick J. Mourits, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, presents on: “Occupational characteristics and spatial inequalities in mortality during 1918-9 influenza pandemic in the Netherlands”

Other authors: Auke Rijpma, Ruben Schalk, Ingrid K. van Dijk, Richard L. Zijdeman

Send e-mail to to get the Zoom-link

Blurb: More than a century ago, the 1918-9 influenza pandemic swept across the globe and took the lives of over 50 million people. When the pandemic finally subsided in 1919, the “Spanish” influenza pandemic had taken over 50 million lives worldwide. A century later it is still not fully understood how socioeconomic differences affected the mortality risk. Multiple studies have found no straightforward relation between socioeconomic status and mortality rates during the 1918-9 pandemic. We argue that this is no surprise, as the mechanisms affecting the health gradient by socioeconomic status observed today were generally not helpful in the 1918-9 influenza pandemic. Social status gives individuals the opportunity to more optimally avoid getting ill, resist infections, and be cured diseases (Johansson, 2000). However, two of these three resources – resistance and cures – were little or not available during the 1918-9 influenza pandemic. However, occupational and spatial differences in exposure may have mattered in determining individual mortality risk.  In this work we use data from the Dutch civil registry to explore the influence of occupational characteristics including exposure to others at work and whether or not work occurred in an enclosed space as well as regional mortality differences. Findings suggest that occupational characteristics affected the likelihood of infection and mortality within the autumn wave, both in less-hit municipalities and the strongest-hit municipalities. Taken together, our findings suggest a stronger socioeconomic pattern in the pandemic than suggested by previous literature.

Ikke alle har mulighet for å jobbe hjemmefra som smitteverntiltak

Image result for Mari Holm Ingelsrud. Size: 120 x 160. Source:

En stor del av Norges befolkning kan jobbe hjemmefra, men vi har også mange ansatte i Norge som ikke utøver yrket sitt foran PC-en. For de fleste av disse er ikke hjemmekontor et alternativ. Ulike yrker har dermed ulike forutsetninger for å kunne følge smittevernrådene som sosial distansering i jobben. I en ny artikkel skrevet av Mari Holm Ingelsrud (som del av NFR-prosjektet CorRisk), ser hun på hvem som har og ikke har hatt mulighet for å bruke hjemmekontor som smitteverntiltak.

Les hele artikkellen her fra side 14: ramazzini-01.2021.pdf (

Meet our Masters Student: Lara Maria Dora Steinmetz

Lara Maria Dora Steinmetz is a Masters Student of International Social Welfare and Health Policy, OsloMet. Read more about Lara and our team here: Our team – Centre for Research on Pandemics & Society (PANSOC) (

  • Tell us about your project 

As COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, it rapidly spreads from person to person. Therefore, limiting the spread is highly reliant on the restriction adherence of individuals. These restrictions require intensive behavioural changes. In order to effectively promote preventive health behaviour, we must take the mechanisms that drive this behaviour into account. In my master’s thesis, I intend to examine the prevalence of a persistent human cognitive trait and its influence on the degree of restriction adherence: the optimism bias. As humans, we tend to underestimate our susceptibility for a negative event while overestimating this probability for others. This perception of invulnerability is called an optimism bias and may lead to low uptake of preventive health behaviour and in turn increase our exposure to infection. In order to shape effective non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) and increase restriction adherence, I aim to add to this knowledge.  

  • Why are you doing a masters in Norway and with PANSOC?

After completing my bachelor’s degree in Social Work last summer in Amsterdam, I wanted to extend my studies and learn about social and health issues from a global perspective. After all, COVID-19 addresses once again that societal issues transcend national borders which stresses the importance of an international perspective. This is how I enrolled in my current master’s studies in International Social Welfare and Health Policy. Subsequently, in preparation of our master’s thesis, I found a great interest in the health-related mysteries of COVID-19 that yet need to be discovered and addressed. PANSOC offers the perfect framework for this as it aims to understand these disparities in vulnerabilities and health outcomes. 

  • What are your plans for a future dream-project in academia?

Currently, we still find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic that we had hoped would already be over. All of society has had to re-shape and adapt to the current circumstances, which has caused high morbidity and mortality, as well as great discomfort and dissatisfaction in many lives. However, there will come an end to this pandemic and I would be curious to explore the aftermath of COVID-19. We have become quite used to a relatively isolated and online lifestyle, in which we may underestimate the pace of ‘normal life’ with its paired up-pace in obligations and expectations.

Not surprisingly, I would be interested to further explore and understand our coping mechanisms, what drives our health behaviour, and how this affects our health outcomes. 

In particular, I expect that the transition of society going ‘back to normal’ will have a major impact on people’s mental health, with subsequent health problems.